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New — National Strategy for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

September 19, 2014 Comments off

National Strategy for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (PDF)
Source: White House

The discovery of antibiotics in the early 20th century fundamentally transformed human and veterinary medicine. Antibiotics now save millions of lives each year in the United States and around the world. The rise of antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains, however, represents a serious threat to public health and the economy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that annually, at least two million illnesses and 23,000 deaths are caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the United States alone.1 If the effectiveness of antibiotics (drugs that kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria) is lost, we will no longer be able to reliably and rapidly treat bacterial infections, including bacterial pneumonias, foodborne illnesses, and healthcareassociated infections. As more strains of bacteria become resistant to an ever-larger number of antibiotics, our drug choices have become increasingly limited and more expensive and, in some cases, nonexistent. In a world with few effective antibiotics, modern medical advances such as surgery, transplants, and chemotherapy may no longer be viable due to the threat of infection.

The National Strategy for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria identifies priorities and coordinates investments: to prevent, detect, and control outbreaks of resistant pathogens recognized by CDC as urgent or serious threats, including carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), ceftriaxoneresistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and Clostridium difficile, which is naturally resistant to many drugs used to treat other infections and proliferates following administration of antibiotics (Table 1); to ensure continued availability of effective therapies for the treatment of bacterial infections; and to detect and control newly resistant bacteria that emerge in humans or animals. This National Strategy is the basis of a 2014 Executive Order on Combating Antibiotic Resistance, as well as a forthcoming National Action Plan that directs Federal agencies to accelerate our response to this growing threat to the nation’s health and security. The National Action Plan will be informed by a report approved by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) on July 11, 2014.

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The Cost of Delaying Action to Stem Climate Change

August 12, 2014 Comments off

The Cost of Delaying Action to Stem Climate Change (PDF)
Source: Council of Economic Advisers (White House)

The signs of climate change are all around us. The average temperature in the United States during the past decade was 0.8 ° Celsius (1.5 ° Fahrenheit) warmer than the 1901 – 1960 average, and the last decade was the warmest on record both in the United States and globally. Global sea levels are currently rising at approximately 1.25 inches per decade, and the rate of increase appears to be accelerating. Climate change is having different impacts across regions within the United States. In the West, heat waves have become more frequent and more intense, while heavy downpours are increasing throughout the lower 48 States and Alaska, especially in the Midwest and Northeast. The scientific consensus is that these changes, and many others, are largely consequences of anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases.

The emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO 2) harms others in a way that is not reflected in the price of carbon – based energy, that is, CO 2 emissions create a negative externality. Because the price of carbon – based energy does not refl ect the full costs, or economic damages, of CO 2 emissions , market forces result in a level of CO2 emissions that is too high . Because of this market failure, public policies are needed to reduce CO 2 emissions and thereby to limit the damage to economies and the natural world from further climate change.

There is a vigorous public debate over whether to act now to stem climate change or instead to delay implementing mitigation policies until a future date. This report examines the economic consequences of delaying implementing such policies and reaches two main conclusions, both of which point to the benefits of implementing mitigation policies now and to the net costs of delaying taking such actions.

The Labor Force Participation Rate Since 2007: Causes and Policy Implications

July 31, 2014 Comments off

The Labor Force Participation Rate Since 2007: Causes and Policy Implications (PDF)
Source: Council of Economic Advisers (White House)

In 2008, the U.S. economy collided with two historic forces. The first force was the Great Recession, the most severe economic crisis in a generation. While the economy has recovered considerably over the last five years, there is little doubt that more work remains to address some of the challenges left in the wake of the Great Recession. The turmoil of 2008 inflicted tremendous pain on millions of families, overshadowing the fact that 2008 also marked a unique milestone in U.S. economic history. That year, the first baby boomers (those born in 1946) turned 62 and became eligible for Social Security early retirement benefits. This second force — the demographic inflection point stemming from the retirement of the baby boomers — was felt far less acutely than the Great Recession, but will continue to have a profound influence on the economy for years to come, well after the business cycle recovery from the Great Recession is considered complete.

In addition to these inflection points in 2008, a number of longer – term trends had been playing out in the U.S. labor force prior to 2008 — and have continued since then. These include the nearly continuous decline in labor force participation rates for prime – age males (i.e., age 25 – 54) since the mid – 1950s and the dramatic rise in labor force participation rates for prime – age females in the 1970s and 1980s followed by a st alling and slight trend decline after the late 1990s.

Many dimensions of the economy’s performance over the last several years can only be properly evaluated when the effects of the Great Recession, the retirement boom, and the longer – term labor force trends are taken into account . One of the clearest illustrations of this point is the labor force participation rate, which represents the fraction of the adult population either working or looking for work. Changes in labor force participation reflect not just current economic conditions like job availability and workers’ assessments of job – finding prospects, but also more structural factors like the age distribution of the population and other aspects of society that impact people’s decisions to participate in the labor force .

This report analyzes the evolution of the labor force participation rate since late 2007 and attempts to quantify the effects of these various forces. We examine the period since 2007 to focus on how each of the two largest forces, the Great Recession and the retirement of the baby boomers, has impacted labor force participation in recent years . We find that the combination of demographic changes and the drop in labor force participation that would have been expected based on historical business cycle patterns explain most but not all of the recent drop in labor force participation. This implies that other factors, likely including both a continuation of pre – existing trends in labor force participation by certain groups and the unique ef fects of the Great Recession have also been important. This report also discusses the labor force participation rates for different groups, discusses potential future scenarios for the participation rate, and lays out policies that would help to boost part icipation in the years to come.

Presidential Memorandum — Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators

June 26, 2014 Comments off

Presidential Memorandum — Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators
Source: White House

Pollinators contribute substantially to the economy of the United States and are vital to keeping fruits, nuts, and vegetables in our diets. Honey bee pollination alone adds more than $15 billion in value to agricultural crops each year in the United States. Over the past few decades, there has been a significant loss of pollinators, including honey bees, native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies, from the environment. The problem is serious and requires immediate attention to ensure the sustainability of our food production systems, avoid additional economic impact on the agricultural sector, and protect the health of the environment.

Pollinator losses have been severe. The number of migrating Monarch butterflies sank to the lowest recorded population level in 2013-14, and there is an imminent risk of failed migration. The continued loss of commercial honey bee colonies poses a threat to the economic stability of commercial beekeeping and pollination operations in the United States, which could have profound implications for agriculture and food. Severe yearly declines create concern that bee colony losses could reach a point from which the commercial pollination industry would not be able to adequately recover. The loss of native bees, which also play a key role in pollination of crops, is much less studied, but many native bee species are believed to be in decline. Scientists believe that bee losses are likely caused by a combination of stressors, including poor bee nutrition, loss of forage lands, parasites, pathogens, lack of genetic diversity, and exposure to pesticides.

Given the breadth, severity, and persistence of pollinator losses, it is critical to expand Federal efforts and take new steps to reverse pollinator losses and help restore populations to healthy levels. These steps should include the development of new public-private partnerships and increased citizen engagement. Therefore, by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby direct the following:

Section 1. Establishing the Pollinator Health Task Force…

CRS — Federal Workforce Statistics Sources: OPM and OMB

June 16, 2014 Comments off

Federal Workforce Statistics Sources: OPM and OMB (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

This report describes online tools, reports, and data compilations created by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that contain statistics about federal employees and the federal workforce.

The report also describes key characteristics of each resource and briefly discusses selected methodological differences, with the intention of facilitating the selection of appropriate data for specific purposes. This report is not intended to be a definitive list of all information on the federal workforce. It describes significant and recurring products that contain specific data often requested by Members or congressional staff.

White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Open Government Plan

June 6, 2014 Comments off

White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Open Government Plan
Source: White House, Office of Science and Technology

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) today released its 2014 Open Government Plan. The OSTP plan highlights three flagship efforts as well as the team’s ongoing work to embed the open government principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration into its activities.

OSTP advises the President on the effects of science and technology on domestic and international affairs. The work of the office includes policy efforts encompassing science, environment, energy, national security, technology, and innovation. This plan builds off of the 2010 and 2012 Open Government Plans, updating progress on past initiatives and adding new subject areas based on 2014 guidance.

Agencies began releasing biennial Open Government Plans in 2010, with direction from the 2009 Open Government Directive. These plans serve as a roadmap for agency openness efforts, explaining existing practices and announcing new endeavors to be completed over the coming two years. Agencies build these plans in consultation with civil society stakeholders and the general public. Open government is a vital component of the President’s Management Agenda and our overall effort to ensure the government is expanding economic growth and opportunity for all Americans.

White House — Increasing Tourism to Spur Economic Growth

June 3, 2014 Comments off

Increasing Tourism to Spur Economic Growth (PDF)
Source: Executive Office of the President

Travel and tourism is a major driver of the U.S. economy. It supports millions of jobs across the country and furthers U.S. strategic and diplomatic interests.

In May 2012, the Administration launched the National Travel and Tourism Strategy for expanding travel to and within the United States, and the President set an ambitious goal of attracting and welcoming 100 million international visitors annually by the end of 2021, who are estimated to spend $250 billion on an annual basis. Two years later, we are on track to meet our goal, and we have made significant progress on specific actions to encourage and make it easier for international travelers to visit the United States…

This report highlights the many economic benefits to the United States from increased travel and tourism and the progress that the Administration is making in implementing the President’s strategy.

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